Dec 26 - Happy Boxing Day!

We had a lovely Christmas potluck dinner with 24 cruisers (including 2 children) getting together, using the tables and facilities at the Fig Tree Restaurant. The feast was plentiful, and most of us didn't eat breakfast the next morning. In the anchorage, it's been like a roller derby. Boats are dragging, re-anchoring multiple times, and there's been a few near misses but only two collisions that we know of. Very entertaining, unless you're the target. We've moved our anchoring spot twice to get away from neighbors that were too close and refused to move. Fortunately, we haven't been hit, but I must say, apparently we must have a bull's eye painted on our hull somewhere. Holding here in Admiralty Bay is dodgy; there's good holding in sand, but many areas appear sandy but are in actuality a thin layer of sand on top of gravel...almost impossible to get the anchor to bite; hence, boats drag as they finally come to that realization. Of course, all this is happening in steady winds of 20-25 knots and squalls to 37 knots! At any rate, it's all good. We've been visiting neighbors, learning what a real mince pie should taste like, and enjoying ourselves. Likewise, we hope all of you enjoyed your Christmas and had a chance to see family and friends. Cheers!

Dec 25 - Merry Christmas!

Wishing all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas! About 15 cruisers we've met got together at the Frangipani Restaurant last night for a lovely dinner, along with the sounds of a live steel band in the background. We hope this holiday season brings good cheer your way and we look forward to hearing from you!

Dec 22 - Perseverence pays off...

The watermaker...where were we? Let's see. I took off the many end fittings, then bounced the membrane housings up and down on the heavy wooden deck of one of the dinghy docks, enough to break loose the stainless end caps with their two O-rings. Before they slid out completely, we returned to Infini to finish the job. When the four end caps were removed, the membranes came sliding out with a bit of jostling, and I tied a line thru the center of each and hung them over the transom, hoping the movement of the water would help break up some of the micro-bacterial growth evident on them. Wishful thinking; didn't happen. Thinking that high pressure would be the only thing that may prove beneficial, I spoke with Cheryl, the woman who runs the morning VHF ch 68 radio net in the mornings, and got the name of a local person with a pressure washer. Off I went, and spent about a half hour pressure washing the membranes, getting a good shower as well in the deal. The results didn't appear all that promising, but there was nothing left to do but put the entire watermaker together again and test it. That didn't go so well, as there were beaucoup leaks in the fittings I had just reinstalled as soon as I attempted to put the membranes under pressure. The boost pump was dribbling at best, showing that the membranes were just about totally blocked. After tightening all the fittings, I went thru the start-up procedures again, and the leaks were still there, but manageable. The high pressure pump was turned up, and we started making desalinated water. I ran the unit for an hour before filling our tanks. I still need to tighten everything up, but it appears we're in business. I'll probably clean the membranes, but they appear to be on their last hurrah, so we feel fortunate to actually be able to get use out of them, yet alone take decent fresh water showers again; what a luxury. The saga continues, but the outcome seems to be improving....While all this was going on, a high pressure system in the Atlantic has been causing enhanced trade wind activity throughout the windward (where we are in Bequia) and leeward islands. We saw 35 knots at anchor the other night! Yikes! Didn't get much sleep with the wind howling and just worrying too much. It's moderated a bit; steady winds are less than 20 knots with gusts in the 25-27 range. Lighter winds aren't expected until next week, so it will be awhile until we move up the island chain. All's well aboard.
Pic: It's been interesting watching the different boats/ships come and go...

Dec 18 - Update

We've been walking around town checking out the resources. Provisioning is easy, with lots of groceries, specialty stores and market stalls. There are enterprising folks who pick up and deliver laundry from/to your boat, as well as fresh water, diesel, gasoline, baguettes and croissants, and grocery items; all delivered to your boat. Convenient, huh? Propane is a bit pricey, as we found out when we filled our 20# tank. There are mechanics, sail repair shops, sewing repair shops, and chandlaries. There's a small museum (we haven't been to yet); a tourist information kiosk, and taxis galore. Large and small tour boats come in and out daily, as do yachties. We've had a few boats anchor way too close and asked them to move, and watched the small Coast Guard boat help move a large, unattended yacht to a mooring as it dragged down in the middle of the fleet here at Princess Margaret Beach. There's a good crew of OCC members here, but haven't spotted any SSCA burgees yet. The winds are brisk; 18-25 with a few higher gusts. We're anchored in 10' of water with 100' of chain out, so are in good shape so far. Btw, I've finally removed the two watermaker membranes from their housings; they're presently hanging suspended off the stern of the boat in the hopes some water flow will help clean them. I saw someone using a pressure washer at one of the resorts yesterday, so I plan to stop by and see if I can use it on the membranes. Desperate times and all that...
Pic: Sundowners on the beach with new friends...

Dec 15 - Bequia

Pos: N13deg00.12min/ W061deg14.70min. Departing at 0600, we anchored at 1330 in Admiralty Bay. Although hard on the wind the entire 41 miles, the sun was out, the breeze fresh at 18-22 knots, and we had the jib, staysail, and single reefed main push us along smartly thru the short, choppy waves. Bequia's largest, indeed its only, town, Port Elizabeth is at the head of Admiralty bay, and it serves as a base for charter as well as visiting yachts. In its day, Bequia was a whaling town, but now serves mainly as a yachting destination. I have always wanted to visit here, so look forward to spending time exploring its nooks and crannies.

Dec 12 - Unexpected project day

Sue woke up and not so cheerfully informed me she couldn't pump the head (toilet, for you landlubbers.) Just the way I want to start my day. I checked the intake and outlet valves, checked connections, checked the joker valve...checked everything. I even put a new O-ring on the piston...didn't do anything, but made me feel better doing it. The toilet allowed water in for just a few strokes, but wouldn't discharge, so it seemed apparent there was an obstruction on the outlet side. I disconnected hoses to the seacock, snaked it, and everything fed fine. Ok then, let's go for the 3-way valve; that's the one that diverts waste into our holding tank or overboard. The valve worked fine and initial inspection failed to reveal a blockage. Hmmm...time to disconnect the other hose going to the vented loop. Finally. The hose was totally packed up with scale; After 8 years, it was time to replace that hose, which was done in short order. From start to finish took me over 6 hours; putting everything back and sanitizing took another 1.5 hours. Welcome to paradise...Later, after a swim and shower, we launched the dinghy and went into the Carriacou Marine dinghy dock to get our bearings. There's a small chandlery there next to the haul-out yard, which is affiliated with Island Water World, so parts can be ordered from other IWW outlets. We walked next door to the Slipway Restaurant for a beer, and admired the view. We estimate about 75 boats in the anchorage. On our return to Infini we stopped by to see Bob and Peggy of the Westsail 42 Adagio. We had first met them in Panama back in 2008! We then stopped by sv Galene (Richard and Rowena), who were flying their OCC burgee and are our immediate neighbors. We flew our SSCA and OCC burgees briefly; the high winds threatened to tear them apart, so a revision of our flag halyard hoist is probably in order. Sounds like a project for another day.

Dec 11 - Carriacou

Pos: N12deg27.379min / W061deg29.288min. We had a wonderful sail from St George's anchorage to Carriacou. There was a bit of motoring, but most of the time it was 18-25 knots of wind and we sailed with a single reef, staysail, and 1/2-3/4 jib. Plenty of rain squalls made it interesting, but no big deal. We stayed on one tack, the current pushed us west, as expected, then reversed and pushed us right to the mouth of Tyrell Bay. We gave Kick-em-Jenny, the active underwater volcano right on the rhumb line from St George's to here, a wide berth. Anchor up to anchor down was about 6-6.5 hours; doesn't get any better than that! Tyrell Bay is described in Chris Doyle's Windward Islands Waterway Guide as "an island with over a hundred rum shops and only one gas station." Hmmm. It's crowded here with lots of boats, but we found a place to anchor in 14' of water, stowed sails, and ate lunch. Watermaker news: the new boost pump for the watermaker works fine; unfortunately, the membranes are stuffed. We get no water flow at all with the pump on, so we've decided to forget it, conserve water, and buy water when necessary. The cost of purchasing two membranes is prohibitive, and we'd get one season out of them before, we suspect, the same thing would happen again. So, until plan B comes along, that's our current plan A; we're open to suggestions.

Dec 9 - Update

We've been busy around here. Sue's been to a few yoga classes, I joined her for a Tai Chi class, and we played Grenada dominoes one morning as well. Dave, Mary Margaret and ourselves drove to Aquarium Beach where we went swimming, cooked hamburgers over an open fire, and met some locals. Aziz owns a fast food place near the campus of St. George University, and happily meets and greets many of the students. We shared a rum (or two) with him and agreed to eat at his restaurant the next day (today) for lunch. We met up Dave and MM again late this morning and made a quick stop into Budget Marine. Our boost pump had arrived; it's now installed, more on that later. We found Aziz's place (can't remember the name), as it's the one with dozens of flags around it on the main road to the university, just around the corner from the entrance. We enjoyed chicken and lamb shwarmas, a huge salad topped off with chicken, and yes, more rums cheerfully served by Aziz. To finish things off we had ice cream next door; none of us really needed that. Our plan is to leave here in the morning for the short run to the St George anchorage, and stage there for the run up to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou the next day. Dave and MM leave for the States Friday for a holiday visit, and will be taking Leu Cat to Trinidad upon their return. We'll look forward to catching up with them sometime and place up the island chain; good times. This is all part of the cruising life; seeing friends, making new friends, then leaving friends as everyone moves off in different directions, to possibly hook up again "down the line." Prickly Bay's been a convenient stop; nice folks, lots to do and see, and good holding.

Dec 5 - Update

We're still here in Prickly Bay, and will be awhile. Budget Marine thinks the pump I ordered will be here Thursday; we'll see. Meanwhile, yesterday, we went with Dave of sv Leu Cat and had our propane bottle filled at Henry's house. After, Dave was kind enough to chase around a bit, so we took him to get a Digicel phone SIM, then the bank. Our Digicel SIM card wouldn't work in our dongle, so even after tech support fooled around with it, we finally put it in the iPad and will just have to get along that way. This morning, we took the "Shademan bus" around to a bunch of different stops. It picks up from the local marinas, and then stops at a bakery, Island Water World, CK's, and St George's downtown, before returning to the marina; cost 15EC/pp/return. For dinner, Dave cooked delicious steaks on the grill aboard Leu Cat. Dave and Mary Margaret had a series of boat system mishaps during their trans-Atlantic crossing, so are now getting organized for repairs and will be going to Trinidad for the bulk of them. We reviewed our experiences and contacts as a good "heads-up" with them. MM and Sue made desserts to die for, and we all had a great time renewing our friendship that started many years ago in Cartagena! The weather's been a bit squally, with winds in the 15-22 range, but the holding's good here, so no worries.

Dec 1 - Island Tour

We used Henry's Safari Tours (473 444 5313) for a full day tour of the island, along with Paul and Gina of sv Solace. Rawl, our driver, was a font of information, and a great driver to boot. We had considered a car hire, but after about an hour on the narrow roads, all decided we had made a good choice going the tour route and leaving the driving to the professionals. Each tour is customized according to the wishes of the passengers. We left Spice Island Marina and traveled the road around the town of St George, missing the traffic but getting great views of everything. Our destination was the Concord Waterfalls, where we stretched our legs and also learned about nutmeg harvesting. We continued north to Gouyave, where we went into one of the few nutmeg processing facilities on the island, the GCNA Nutmeg Processing Plant. Although Hurricane Ivan decimated about 90% of the nutmeg industry here, Grenada still provides about a third of the world's nutmeg production, so it was quite interesting to take the short tour of the plant. After, we went north to the Jouvray chocolate farm, where we learned a bit about making chocolate. Of course, we bought a few bars to take back. Lunch was at a restaurant at the top of the island in the small town of Sauteurs. After, it was off to the River Antoine Rum Distillery. We all had high hopes of a hidden gem here, as it is the oldest working, non-automated rum mill on island. Got to say, it was like sipping moonshine and not to our palates; there were no purchases made. We chose to make the Grand Etang Forest Reserve our last stop, as it was getting on in the afternoon and we wanted to make a brief detour to the IGA supermarket. Overall, we had an enjoyable day and felt the price of the excursion, although a bit on the high side, worthwhile. The scenery was beautiful, the stops informative, and the driver very accommodating; a good experience, and we returned to our boats before sunset.
Pic: View from the hillside road of the Carenage, St. George's Harbor.

Nov 30 - A busy day

A big day here. We checked in with Officialdom this morning. For cruisers following us, pre-register with SailClear; it makes things a lot easier when it comes to the paperwork of clearing-in. After, we ate breakfast, then went over to Budget Marine. With our new clearance paperwork from Customs, we were able to set up our VAT-free account, which saves 15% on any purchase. The first-choice pump I had picked out in the catalog had gone up about $180USD from the 2015 to the 2016 catalog...are you kidding me? I chose my next pump,much more reasonably priced; there were two at the Budget Marine in St Martin, so one will have to be shipped here. No problem; arrival is expected in 7-10 days. After a quick lunch aboard, we decided to go to St. George; it was quite an experience. The mini-buses cram more people in than you'd think possible; no one seems to care, the radio is blaring full volume, and the driver is hell-bent-for weather; don't get in his way. First stop was Scotia Bank, where there doesn't appear to be a limit on withdrawal amounts; then to Digicel, where we bought a data Sim (side note: still can't get the bloody thing to work...), then to several fabric stores, then to a barber for me to get a that time it was close to 3:30 and time to find a bus back to the marina. No problem; the ride back on the No. 1 bus was faster than the one going into town, and we were in the dinghy riding back to the boat in 30 minutes. At Prickly Bay Marina, we paid 5EC each for FW showers (remember, our watermaker isn't commissioned yet...), and are now sitting at happy hour enjoying the free internet and good company.
Pic: We took a local bus to St. George's (the capitol and BUSY city), and found a barber for Michael.

Nov 29 - Update

As you'd expect from a "sticky" place like this, there is an active cruisers VHF net at 0730 on ch 66. Lots of goings-on, commercial ads and typical yachtie stuff. We ate 1/2 price pizzas at Prickly Bay Marina restaurant with Paul & Gina; most restaurants run specials on various days of the week to entice business. Finding our way back to the boat at night is always a bit of a challenge, but no drama. This morning, we re-anchored closer to the hub of things; it's calmer, we anchored in 25' instead of 35', and it's a closer dinghy ride to shore.It appears that boats are arriving and departing all the time; we're planning a sight-seeing excursion soon.

Nov 28 - Safe arrival Prickly Bay, Grenada

Pos: N11deg59.7min/ W061deg45.8min. The seas were running about 6' and we rolled quite a bit with the wind and seas off the quarter and behind us, but the hardest part was slowing the boat down to make a daytime entry into Prickly Bay. Overall, it was a good passage, our first overnight since arrival in Trinidad. The island of Grenada showed up where it was supposed to...and entry was straight-forward. There's a flotilla of boats here, but we found a place to anchor without a problem. After breakfast and a brief rest, we dinghied to Budget Marine and I walked about a mile to the closest ATM to get Eastern Caribbean currency; present exchange rate is 2.67 EC/1 USD. I'm on the hunt for a boost pump for the watermaker. The Jabsco Water Puppy died, and the plan is to replace it with a March centrifical pump. Finding one is a challenge, and it looks like it will have to be shipped to Grenada, incurring an additional modest tax and charges. But, sometimes if you can just find the right item, it's worth all the hassle.
Pic: Wow, we'll have to get used to crowded anchorages from now on! We knew Grenada was a popular space, but my goodness!

Nov 27 - Departure plans

We went into town for last minute stuff and a good lunch at the Suckhole (ya, really...that's the name...) Bar & Restaurant. After, we bought some wahoo steaks, 4 for 40TT. Returning to the boat, we stowed gear and planned for a late afternoon departure. It's about 83 nm to Prickly Bay, Grenada, so makes for a (hopefully) easy passage.
Pic: the view from our lunch spot.

Nov 26 - Happy Thanksgiving!

We had purchased a small turkey in Chagauramas, and had Paul and Gina from sv Solace for dinner. Paul was kind enough to loan us his BBQ bottle of propane, which was a good thing as we had run out of propane and that turkey would surely have languished. The girls did an admirable job, and Paul made his famous margaritas. Good times. Prior to that, I had a hard time getting the dinghy thru first gear, so figured I had stripped the thrust bearing. Sue helped me pull the motor up so I could lay it down in the dinghy, and it was quickly apparent that the propeller had stripped its hub. Replaced, problem solved. We managed to Skype and exchange emails with family, and felt blessed to share another beautiful day.

Nov 25 - Pirates Bay

Pos: N11deg19.769min/ W060deg33.198min. We motored up to Pirates Bay, Charlotteville, at the north-west corner of the island. The anchorage is deep, 55-60 feet, but holding is good and there’s plenty of room for everyone. We’re getting slow wifi a long way from shore. The dinghy dock is at the main dock in front of the small town, but use a stern anchor to keep the dinghy off the dock. Several small stores, bars and restaurants line the bay. The local fisherman’s coop and gas station is nearby. I bought a few jerry jugs of gasoline, but no diesel was available. Propane is not available here; get it in Scarborough. Actually, not too much is available here; one of the charms of this small place. Potable water is found at the end of the dock, available from a yellow hose. Customs and Immigration are at the rear of the small Health Center, but hours seem a bit erratic and no one seems in any hurry. Small town living; relaxing, but not that convenient for cruising needs, should you have any.
Pic:The quaint small village of Charlotteville is the fishing center for the island.

Nov 23 - A quick trip to Scarborough

It’s been windy, squally, and rolly here at Store Bay. Finding the dinghy landing was a bit exciting. You motor around a rock breakwater, leave a black buoy to port, avoid any swimmers in the water, and hope the tide’s out a bit so you can beach the dinghy. Then, lock the dinghy thru a chain link fence around a post and there you are. When the surf’s rolling, it’s impossible, as one of the French catamaran’s captain explained to us as he stopped by looking for an alternate landing place. He was thoroughly soaked, but didn’t realize we were first-timers here, so unable to give him any better suggestions. Once ashore, trash bins are around, and a short walk up to the road allows you to point your hand downwards, thereby signaling to any “share a ride” vehicle that you need a ride to wherever; in our case, Scarborough. The ride cost 7TT each, one way, the radio is loud, but the view and company pleasant enough. We cleared in, and out, with Customs and Immigration, had a quick snack at the Ciao Coffee shop up the hill near the Customs office, bought some fresh fruit, stopped at one of the local grocery stores, and did the entire find a ride thing in reverse. We don’t really trust any moorings, as maintenance is always the issue; with the wind gusts hitting over 25 knots we were glad to be back aboard. Our plan is to move further north along the coast tomorrow morning. Tobago is set up in two distinct districts, so checking in and out in Scarborough, then Charlotteville, is necessary should you be coming this way and planning on seeing a bit of the island before pushing off.
Pic: Map of Tobago, approximately 7 miles wide, 22 miles long. We're in the SW corner by the airport. We'll travel the north coast eastward.

Nov 20 - Safe arrival in Tobago

Pos: N11deg09.456min/ W060deg50.594min. We anchored near Chupara Point last night at N10deg48.21min / W061deg22.11min and awoke early for a 0530 departure to Tobago. With Mr. Perkins humming along at 1700 rpm, we generally saw 4 knots. That means some of the time we were doing in the 3's; occasionally (but not too often) in the 2's, but no 5's. Hmm. Winds on the nose the entire way, 10-15 knots, occasionally higher in the gusts; swells about 2-3'...but the current was something to reckon with. It had to be anywhere from 1.5-2.5 knots, on the nose (of course), and made for a long day of motoring. We had the mainsail cover off - wishful thinking. It was a motor trip, pure and simple. The good news is that we pulled into Store Bay at 1530 and took a mooring ball. It's possible to anchor in deep depths, but there were a few available mooring balls, free wifi and our friends nearby. Our first eastern Caribbean island; we can't wait to explore. All's well.
Pic: Arriving at the mooring field in Store Bay. We'll have to catch a ride to Scarborough to check in with Immigration and Customs. We were so entertained by a pod of dolphins swimming alongside us as we hugged the north coast of Trinidad for over 2 hours.

Nov 18 - Preparation for departure

I was in the dinghy at daylight inspecting the pee hole; no obvious blockage. I started the engine; it kicked in immediately and had good water discharge. My guess? I probably picked up something that partially blocked the water intake yesterday (the water here is not too clean), and by this morning, everything was back to normal. The exhaust riser was wrapped in exhaust wrap, and things are looking good. Sue went on a shopping excursion with Members Only (Jesse James) to Pricesmart; we plan to check-out with Customs tomorrow morning.
Pic: The many boats here at TTSA (Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association), are seasonal on moorings with bow & stern line .

Nov 17 - Details

We noticed a water leak near the exhaust manifold attachment to the heat exchanger while motoring yesterday. I tightened up the nuts and hose clamps, and put a bit of high-temperature gasket sealant around, but nothing changed. We dinghied in to the office at TTSA to inquire about things, and caught up on wifi. There's a bar and restaurant here, and many rows of boats on moorings, but Infini is too big, and too heavy to consider a mooring, not that we wanted one anyway. The showers are good; a bottle of Stag beer is 11 TT. In the afternoon, Falco, the mechanic, came by and discovered a split hose and loose hose clamp right near our leak. How I missed that one is a source of embarassment. Fortunately, I had a length of 1" heavy duty hose that we cut to size, fitted, and voila, leak solved. On the way back from dropping Falco off at the dock, I noticed the Yamaha pee hole wasn't putting out water; something else to look into. Otherwise, all's well. Most all systems have been checked; the water maker will have to wait until we get to clean water to service. We bent on the jib early in the morning when there was no wind; also, the staysail was hanked on as I anticipate we'll be using it. The new snubber line was put in service, and we settled in for the night; it gets dark at about 1800 hours.
Pic: So lovely to be back in the water! Sunrise is usually calm. The routine afternoon winds make the anchorage a bit more lively.

Nov 16 - We're back in the water!

We launched a bit later than planned, but it's island time, right, mon? Tightened up the stuffing box, checked all the thru hulls and strainers; all's well. Had a hell of a time getting the headstay and backstay re-attached; thanks to Steve of sv Slow Flight and Greg of sv Serenade for all their help; beer's on us. There were no moorings available in the bay so we motored around to TTSA and anchored; it was late afternoon. It's wonderful to finally be back at anchor staring at the low hills, with the city of Port of Spain in the distance.
Pic: The view from Infini as she's carried to the haul out slip.

Nov 12 - Update

We're making progress. Bottom painting is just about complete (the support pads need to be re-positioned, and then the bottom of the keel where the boat is resting will need painting when we're in the slings). We're scheduled to splash Monday morning and are looking forward to being back in the water. Life in the boat yard - not for the faint of heart.
Pic: I was able to get the captain to join the group trip to Macqueripe Bay that Robin from Heidi organized. The hike let us know we were out of shape. The views and walk through the bamboo forest and jungle were invigorating. Submarines used this picturesque bay to refuel during World War II.

Nov 5 - Update

The cutlass bearing, shaft and transmission coupling are all in. I've learned that here in Trinidad, it's necessary to stay as close to the top of the work list as possible; if not, your place in the queue falls dramatically and your job, no matter how important it is to you, falls precipitously in importance to whatever contractor is doing the work. Not unlike other places we've hauled and had to have work done. I've walked my old pair of Crocs into repair going back and forth to the machine, welding and prop shops; they needed 5200 on the soles to hold together. I'll be looking for some beat-up bicycles to buy from another cruiser; it would save time and shoe leather. At any rate, the prop shaft and propellor were in fine shape, so the machine shop drilled a hole for the cotter, Chris from the prop shop (a prince of a guy) dropped everything off to the boat, and we were ready for install. The exhaust riser needed a new gasket and piece of vertical pipe. You'd think those parts would be easy to source; think again. Wazied, at the machine shop, had to drive across town for the pipe and then had to thread both ends; Falco, the mechanic, had to drive over to a supply shop downtown to source the exhaust gasket. There are several yacht boat supply shops locally, but they're more like a West Marine in the States; availability and selection is often lacking. The good news is that you really can source most, but not all, of everything you need here. If it's not available locally, you can have items shipped without too much hassle. The really good news I've saved for last. The Admiral flew in today and is now busy unpacking and reorganizing aboard. I had hoped to have all the major work done before her arrival, but things didn't quite turn out that way. Close, though! Weather permitting, it's possible that bottom paint will be applied next week.
Pic: A view from Infini's deck while on 'the hard'.

Oct. 28 - Projects

The shaft, stuffing box, transmission coupling and exhaust riser are now all out and off the boat. Our two fixed, 3-blade props will go for routine inspection and the shaft will have a cotter pin hole drilled in the end for the retaining nut to be secured. One of the weaknesses of the MaxProp, in my opinion, is in the design; several threads of the prop shaft have to be cut off to fit it, so if you ever want to change over to a fixed blade prop, you're unable to secure the nut with a cotter pin as you've just cut off that portion of the shaft thread with the cotter hole in it. Crazy. We've been very fortunate and never hit anything with our prop blades; we've met other cruisers who weren't so lucky. What would they do if they didn't carry an expensive set of spare blades for their folding, variable pitch prop? Our exhaust riser will go to the welder to repair a small crack that developed. I had patched it with JB Weld, which held for many thousands of miles, but a proper repair will be done at this time. The boat awnings, which haven't been used since they were made in Guatemala, have been up for the last 7 months and are off to the shop for modification and repair; also, two hatch covers are getting new clear vinyl sewn in. There's a choice of bottom paints here, and I'm in the final stages of decision making; Hemphill, Jotun Sea Force, Trinidad SR, or Sea Hawk; prices and color availability are all over the place. The wind vane is in the machine shop having a frozen SS bolt on the rudder blade removed and new bearings put in. For anyone coming this way, here in Chagauramas there's a cruisers information net at 0800 on VHF 68 daily; it's very informative with lots of participation. Lastly, this past week there have been thunderstorms every day, so if you're planning on painting or peeling your boat, better to get here way early in the dry season.

Oct. 26 - Back aboard in Chagauramas

I arrived a few days ago and spent the first two nights in the hotel located at Power Boats. That gave me the time to clean the deck and cockpit and recruit Clark from Two Amigos to help drag the heavy headsail and mainsail from the settee in the salon to the deck. We also brought the windvane topsides. Down below looked pretty good. A bit of dust, some dead flies, but no mold or dead roaches - yea! Overall, I'd say in very good shape, so I think our pre-departure efforts have paid off. The list of projects goes on. Since it's hot and humid here, I'm still getting acclimated. Oh, forgot: I said "I" and not "we" as Sue is still in Florida taking care of some business that needed attending to, and will be here in about two weeks. Let's see...all the halyards have been run; the furling blocks on the stanchions have been attached; the furling line has been run; Cold Keate put a small charge in the refrigerator compressor today; the box temperature is now down to where it should be; I changed the two water filters in the galley; the Maxprop propeller has been removed in anticipation of installing a new cutlass bearing; I've organized a bit down below (a never-ending process); done some provisioning for one; and installed a marine wifi system from island time pc. The internet is still very slow and sketchy, but I'm down below at the chart table writing this entry, so that's an improvement. All-in-all, not a bad few days. There are about a half-dozen boats around that we've met previously, so folks are coming back to start the new cruising season. I checked out the cruisers book exchange at the laundry here at Power Boats; 99% were in French or German.

Sept. 21 - Things are moving along

Well, there... Hello, again! We trust all of you are well, rested, and have enjoyed yourselves in our absence. It's been a very busy summer for us as well, visiting lots of family and friends, and taking care of a ton of stuff, mostly expected, but you know how that goes. Plane reservations have now been made to return to Trinidad late October, where we'll get Infini ready for next season's cruising in the eastern Caribbean. We're really excited about that! Meanwhile, just a note to say we attended this past weekend's SSCA gam in St. Petersburg, Fl. For those who don't know, a "gam" means a social visit or friendly interchange, especially between whalers or other seafarers. (Yes, I had to look that definition up...) We didn't spot any whalers, but the event was quite well attended, and we enjoyed seeing old friends and making some new ones. If you're not a member, consider the benefits of joining; the website is We'll be starting to make more regular blog entries in the very near future and, as always, look forward to your comments and suggestions.

June 1 - The official start of hurricane season

As we're not aboard, this will be our last blog entry until we return to Infini later in the year. We can be contacted at the email address found on the side bar and look forward to keeping in touch with many folks during our land travels. Have a great summer (or winter, for many of our friends in the other hemisphere)!

May 13 - Back in the USA

We arrived just after midnight to New Port Richey, and still wanted to unpack a bit before hitting the sack. There's a lot to catch up on, but having fast, unlimited internet is a huge help, and Sue's already planning on photo album updates and adding pictures to our blog entries.
Pic: Where Infini departed from 8 years ago.

May 12 - Preparation

As we head out by Maxi-taxi to the airport, I was thinking that some folks might find it useful to see a partial list of what we've done before departure. Here goes: 1. Spray Corrosion-X on electrical contacts and tools 2. Shut sea cocks except for cockpit drains 3. Disconnect SSB antennae at the tuner 4. Disconnect the VHF antennae 5. Shut the windlass breaker 6. Lock the lazarette 7. Shut the propane tank valve 8. Shut house battery switch and all breakers 9. Remove batteries from flashlights, head lamps, and any other items not needed during our absence. 10. Give boat key to marina office 11. Ensure inverter is off 12. Set solar panel array; we shut off our forward pair and leave the aft pair on, drawing current to trickle charge the batteries thru the solar charge controller 13. Lock up gas cans with bicycle chain 14. Fill FW tanks 15. Fill diesel tanks 16. Stuff deck openings to prevent bug entry 17. Wash down interior cabin walls, Formica, and teak with vinegar solution 18. Place Saran Wrap over toilet; this should prevent drying of internal seals 19. Winterize outboard engine 20. Put out moth balls and various bug deterrents. 21.Store all we can below; including fenders, cockpit cushions; anything that could 'walk'. Remember, this is a partial list; some folks do more; a few just lock their boats and head out! We've got four bags, each weighing 50 pounds, plus one carry-on, as well as two backpacks and one camera bag. Infini looks lighter already, even up on boat stands!

May 7 - Haul-out

We were hauled at Power Boats. Typical screw-up. At first, I was told, "Come in bow first. You won't have to drop the head stay." Not...we scrambled to take off the Profurl. Of course, the Allen screws refused to budge. We're in the slings; Michael, the travel-lift driver, is a laid back guy. "No problem, Captain. Take all the time you need." Yah, I could have been there until next month trying to back out the screws and taking off that Profurl..."Go ahead and call the rigger,I said, figuring it was way easier to have him worry about it. Gary, the rigger, showed up about 5 minutes later, took a few minutes to assess the situation, and proceeded to do what I should have done to begin with; he removed the clevis pin holding the Profurl up (after loosening the back stay. I had already removed the cotter pins...). Voila...let the haul-out continue. The rest went smooth as. Later, Brent, the yard manager came by and said "why didn't you back in? You wouldn't have had to remove the head stay." Thanks, buddy...a bit late for that. Next time, maybe say something beforehand? Well, it's all good. We've put up the full boat canvas we had made in Guatemala...we don't use it too much :). We then had a visit from Cold Keate, a guy who works on refrigeration and A/C systems, as well as watches peoples' boats when they're gone for the rainy season. We contracted with him at a fair price to make regular visits to the boat, and rented an A/C unit from him. He fabricated a ply enclosure to surround the unit in the companionway and allow us to lock up, and we now are way ahead in the prevention of mold which regularly occurs aboard stored boats here, especially during rainy season. So, the organization and clean-up continues. We fly out the 12th, so that deadline is coming up. Stay tuned!

May 1 - Update

We've had a busy week. Matt left for Florida a few days ago, leaving a void as well as an empty V-berth. He's on to new adventures of the land work kind, after 6 months and about 7000 miles of the boat work kind; an adjustment for everybody. We've been straightening up, getting ready for our haul-out May 7th. The engine's been cleansed with degreaser, and the deck and cockpit have been washed down, as well as the stainless polished; more halyards have been removed and replaced with runners, our sails are ready for inspection at the sailmaker, and the newly upholstered cockpit cushions look great. We've found time to have dinner aboard with Marion & Dave of sv Kilkea II, who are celebrating the completion of their circumnavigation, along with Gordon & Helen of sv Mantra. We've also been to the weekly Thursday night cruisers BBQ at Power Boats, doing our best to eat and share our food stores before we depart for the States. Since we have about a month's worth of food in the freezer and about two weeks to go before our flight, many folks are enjoying the fish Matt caught and the meats we bought in South Africa. I bought a used 6000 BTU A/C unit the other day, but the power post on the dock isn't wired properly, so we're unable to use our extension cord and A/C until that's addressed. More boats are arriving here daily, and we see our sister-ship, Native Dancer, just pulled in. We haven't met those folks, but it's not very often you see two Westsail 43's in one place!

April 21 - Still busy....

OK, then....Just what have we been doing? The woodworker, Carlton, has shown up every day, is quite talented, and I work alongside him. The galley sink access panel is complete, was mounted a few minutes ago, and looks great. The dodger eyebrow, which lifts the studs that the dodger attaches to from the fiberglass deck to a canted area on the teak, is just about finished. Carlton can be reached at Busy Bee Woodworking, 472-2490. The Yamaha outboard works fine; we used Jonathan's Outboard Shop at 727-9293. Our cockpit cushions are being recovered by Mervyn at Mervyn's Canvas & Cushions 463-7099. The FW pump pulley had a new, machined insert pressed onto the old bearing surface as well as a keyway slotted into the material. This approach saved a lot of money rather than starting from scratch, was installed back on the Perkins today, and we'll test everything out tomorrow. We used Wazied at Twin Line Boring & machine Shop (at Tardieu Marine) at 322-2600 for several projects now, and he knows his stuff. What a haircut at Carla's across from us (75TT), near Crew's Inn; the sails were taken to Ullman Sails; Matt's booked his ticket back to the States (this coming Monday) and is busy with last minute stuff, as well as running substitute line for halyards, cleaning, and painting. We've been to a few cruisers BBQ's (braai's in SA!), had dinner with friends, and are trying to eat all the food we have aboard before we depart as well (no tickets yet). Whew...time is flying by!

April 11 - Busy times

Well, we started to tackle our punch list of projects. So far, we've removed the Yankee and main sails; they and the staysail will go to Ullman Sails for inspection and stitching repairs where needed. The wood worker stopped by and I discussed a few teak projects with him. I went to the machine shop to drop off the FW pump pulley for insert fabrication. He smiled when he saw my keyway modification. But, worked, didn't it! I called about the liferaft repack but didn't get a good feeling from that outfit; we'll have to wait and see. We visited the YSATT office and talked to Catherine there. Next door to the Coral Cove Marina is Tropical Marine, where Jesse James hangs out. He wasn't in, but we did stop for a beer at the Wheelhouse Cafe there. The foredeck's been washed; the cockpit still needs it. The Yamaha went into the shop for a modification. The starter pull cord wouldn't work; something new and different. I was afraid the cylinder was locked up, but that's not the case. The mechanic explained that on the two stroke, 15 HP Enduro models, the one we have, the shaft goes up into the head and is, basically too long, therefore susceptible to salt encrosion which eventually just packs so tightly that the engine can't turn over. The solution is to remove the upper part of the motor and literally cut off about an inch or so of the shaft; newer Yamaha models already come with that mod; more specifics will be forthcoming. This morning I took the gooseneck off the boom for R/R as its bearing surface was eating into the forward end of the boom and caused the boom to tilt as well. Fortunately, the welder is next door to the machine shop. What had happened was that over the years, salt water, again, caused corrosion behind the bearing surface and pitted the bearing surface of the gooseneck where it inserts into the boom. The welder filled it in where needed with material (aluminum); the machine shop took off the extra metal, and I had a larger SS bearing surface (think of a large SS washer) fabricated to distribute the load a bit more on the most forward vertical surface of the boom. More fun and games. But, seeing that we've only been here two days...hey, we've made a start on it! Sue's done a few loads of hand laundry, which is now hanging from the lifelines (yes, we do look like a laundry scow...), and has arranged pick up of another few loads (sheets and towels, mostly) to the laundromat next door at Tropical Marine. She's also posted a few more photo albums; enjoy!


I call it repairs with bubble gum and duct tape; kidding of course. We arrived to the north coast of Trinidad during the early afternoon but were too late to attempt the narrow channel into Chagauramas. We chose to anchor under a spit of land that provided protection from the prevailing easterlies, and although rolly, we all got enough sleep and, more important, the engine worked getting into the anchorage which was located behind a reef. At 0600 we departed with light winds, and by late morning were far enough along under sail to start the engine about one mile from the channel entrance. We had contact with several other cruising boats, and arrangements were made for several dinghies to help us get into our slip when the time came. The engine worked fine; the repairs held and we gave thanks for that. Gordon (sv Mantra), Fred (sv Liberty) and James (sv Banshee) came out by dinghy, and the dock hands caught our lines as we maneuvered into a narrow slip at Coral Cove Marina. Customs and Immigration had given us permission beforehand to go directly to our slip rather than tie up to their dock, and it all worked out. By noon we were secured and realized we had sailed 6790 nautical miles from Richards Bay, South Africa to here! We've crossed the Indian and Atlantic Oceans in the last year, and have had an amazing time. At 1300, we cleared in with officials at Immigration, then Customs and were treated very professionally; processing went quickly. After, we went for lunch (very expensive) at the Crews Inn and are now slowly organizing the boat and ourselves. A hot is good. Bubble gum and duct tape :)

April 5 - Happy Easter Sunday!

Pos: N08deg10min / W054deg42min. We had a good noon-noon run of 177 miles; average speed 7.4 knots. The full moon and conditions during the night were beautiful. Sue's prepared a lovely dinner: steak tenderloin medallions, Oriental noodle salad, mashed potatoes, onions with mushrooms, and sticky toffee cheesecake for dessert. Yumm! AWA.

April 4 - It's a marlin!

Pos: N06deg48min/ W51deg, 39min. Matt hooked up Infini's first billfish today, a 32 pound, 5 1/2 foot marlin! To set the scene: it was 11:30 in the morning, winds were 18-20 knots and we were barreling along at 6.5-7 knots. The drag on the reel went off and the line spun out fast. Matt got on it immediately and managed to tighten the drag enough to slow down the fish but not tight enough to break the line. Eventually, we furled the jib to slow the boat down to 5 knots. The man-vs-fish battle lasted two hours and I was dumping fresh water on the reel to cool it off while Matt reeled in; towards the end, the fish appeared to be winning and was very close to spooling the reel (unwinding all the line on the reel and taking off for the deep blue) when he finally tired out and eventually was brought to the boat, fortunately dead, as we didn't relish having a large billfish jumping around the deck trying to impale one of us. Exciting stuff! The freezer is definitely packed!

April 3 - We're getting there

Pos: N06deg54min/ W049deg59min. Winds have been ENE-NE 13-18 for days now, occasional gusts to 21-22. We've been running with a single reef in the main, and 1/2-2/3 of the Yankee. Lots of sargosso weed in the water. Tonight is the full moon; Good Friday. AWA.

Mar 31 - Repairs have worked

Pos: N03deg28min / W044deg09min. We ran the engine earlier and the FW pump pulley turns fine. Unfortunately, a slight metallic sound can be faintly heard, no doubt the new key in a very doubtful keyway holding it in for the present. Because of this, we've decided to go directly to Chaguaramas to affect proper R/R. The weather forecast looks favorable; brisk NE winds the entire way. Yesterday's noon to noon run was 164 mi, so we're making good time.
Pic: Matt making more lures.

Mar 30 - We'll have to wait a bit longer

Pos: N02deg26min / W041deg50min. It was a boisterous day sailing, winds 18-20 for most of it. Our speed has been in the 6's-7's, so today wasn't conducive to starting the motor. Coolant is in the system and all the hose clamps have been checked; it's now up to the small key in the keyway to see if the entire repair holds.
Pic: Michael & Matt working on the water pump pulley.

Mar 29 - What's that noise?

Pos: N01deg23min / W039deg37min. For the last 3-4 days we kept hearing a metallic sound when running the engine and routine cursory checks didn't prove helpful. Strange metallic sounds and engines - not a good thing....This morning, I dove into the engine room and discovered that the FW pump pulley housing had come loose and was just spinning around with the belt. Hmmm. The pulley nut was jammed on the shaft of the pump, so dismantling the entire assembly was necessary. Of course, that meant all the coolant was lost as hoses had to be removed, but I finally got the pump off by late morning. Matt and I were able to remove the shaft nut, but the pulley housing had an elongated hole in the stainless set ring, no doubt from not discovering and fixing the problem early on. There was no key in the keyway groove, and I eventually found it, completely by chance, with a magnet sweeping the bilge while looking for one of the pump housing nuts that had dropped there. Fun and games. The key was elongated and had apparently spun out of its groove; a new one was needed. We carry bronze square stock aboard, so cutting it down to size and shaping wasn't all that difficult. The pump has been remounted, but I'm waiting until tomorrow to put the final shaping to the key and housing ring. Fortunately the wind has cooperated today, and we've had NE 12-16, with gusts to 18, all day. The pole was dropped earlier, and we have a double reefed main, staysail, and about two thirds of the Yankee out, and are going along smoothly at 5.4-6.4 knots; the wind is about 60-80 degrees off the bow, not too uncomfortable. Well, that's the report for today. Pump repairs and coolant replacement continue tomorrow, along with, hopefully, a happy Perkins.
Pic: Michael working in the cramped engine room.


At 1141 this morning, we crossed the equator at longitude W037deg14.214min. The weather cooperated, we had a proper crossing ceremony giving thanks to King Neptune and his dominions, and enjoyed a nice snack. Sue figured this was our sixth equator crossing! Of note, Matt's been with us for three of them! We'll maintain this same heading (about 305-310 deg T) for another 1-2 days before making a more northwest turn towards either Devil's Island in French Guyana or possibly go straight to Trinidad...we'll decide soon. A special day; it's good to be back, and AWA. Tech note: for new readers of our blog, if you press "Where we are," located at the upper, left portion of the home page near "Our pictures," a red button will mark our route (taken from the "Position reports" I submit) over whatever time period you choose in the option box. Enjoy!

Mar 25 - Enroute

Pos: S03deg24min / W032deg53min. We departed FdN this morning, very glad to get away from the rolly anchorage. Overall, I wouldn't rate this stop as a "must-see" destination. It's very expensive; there's a daily fee for the boat to be anchored in the National Park, as well as a daily fee for each crew member on top of that. Further, meals ashore are $15-20++, lunch or dinner. Beer or drinks are likewise expensive. Provisioning is OK, and diesel is available for about $6 USD/gallon. Rental cars are all over the place. They're dune buggy type things, and go for about $50 USD/day, although I suspect a bit of searching would turn up a less expensive cost. The allegedly slow internet was completely down while we were here, so no comments there. A 40+ knot squall came thru the other night. It was complete white-out conditions, and the size of the waves was impressive. They knocked the large, steel marker beacon of the small harbor entrance off it's mooring chains, which then capsized upside down! The anchorage is very rolly to begin with; that night it was just ugly. At this time, we're enroute to Isle du Salud, just across from Devil's Island, in French Guyana. This will be about a 1400 mi passage, as we're going a few hundred miles north of our rhumb line to try to get thru the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone) on a more direct angle across it, rather than along its axis, before turning towards IdS. We're hoping to avoid at least some of the heavier squalls and thunderstorms the ITCZ a few degrees north and south of the equator latitude usually brings; we'll see how it all works out. From the latest weather forecasts, it appears we have about another 36 hours of motoring before the wind fills in. AWA.

Mar 21 - Safe arrival Fernando de Noronha

Pos: S03deg50.01min / W032deg24.49min. We anchored in Santa Antonia Bay just after daybreak. Using just s scrap of jib, we rolled down our line, trying to keep our speed between 3-4 knots so as to arrive after dawn. This entire 1100 mi leg was a mixed bag. We certainly had some good sailing, but also had light air, fickle wind and a lot of rolling and slatting of sails. It's hard to get Infini moving in 4-6 knots of wind behind us, but she did surprisingly well. We did motor for a bit in those times with absolutely no wind, when my patience ebbed and I ignored "THE LOOK" that the Admiral gives me any time I suggest using the iron genoa. I believe her quote is we're a sailboat..." Yes, I know, but sitting there doing less than 2 knots, having to hand steer because the autopilot won't steer in anything less than 2.3 knots of boat speed...well, it ain't gonna happen. This is why we carry petrochemical in our fuel tanks. At any rate, in the "man vs fish" category, we had 2 keepers (mahi-mahi), and returned 3 smaller fish (mahi-mahi and yellow tail tuna). In the "to be repaired" category, we sustained 3 broken sail slides due to severe slatting, along with 1 possible broken batten, but I can't really tell about that yet. We've already planned for the main and Yankee to go off to the sailmaker for routine maintenance and repair when we get to Trinidad. In the SSB email category, hooking up to Sailmail was almost impossible, but I did manage to do so a few times. Our Winlink connection seems much more stable, and I've been able to connect every day or so. Overall, everyone's fine and glad to be here. Although just anchored, we can tell the anchorage here will be extremely rolly, but it'll still be a nice change for a bit. We haven't decided how long we're staying here; more later.

Mar 17 - Happy St Patrick's Day!

Pos: S05deg57.38min / W026deg11.42min. It's been a beautiful day sailing today. The wind got a bit brisk; we saw 30 knots, but it was dead behind us, so we ran with the full main and no headsail. Winds are forecast to moderate over the next few days...we'll see. In a previous blog entry, I mentioned "cotter checks". Today, routine surveillance, again, paid dividends as we found a crack in our starboard aft, lower turnbuckle, It's not all the way thru the turnbuckle, but with crevice corrosion, you never know. I've rigged up an extra SS wire strop and hitch to support the stay anyway; tomorrow I'll dig out the spare turnbuckle, but hope to be able to wait until we're at anchor in 3-4 days before replacing it. We've been enjoying lots of fresh fish, prepared pan-fried and poke. The humidity and heat are definitely rising; we're down to swimming suits and T shirts most all of the time. AWA.

Mar 16 - We're half-way there

Pos: S06deg16min / W023deg54min. Today marked our half way point to Fernando de Noronha. Sailing has been fine, usually in the 5-7 knot range. Matt landed a 4' mahi-mahi this afternoon; our freezer's filling up. AWA.

Mar 15 - Enroute, a typical day

Pos: S06deg43min / W020deg30min. During the night we picked up a favorable SE wind, 15-20 knots, and are now aiming at Fernando de Noronha. Our watch schedule is 3 hours on, 6 hours off, beginning at 1800 hours. Sue does a SSB radio net with other cruisers at 1900, and I've been attempting to hear our 0630 HAM net; no joy there. We've still had little success with Sailmail and have been using our Winlink connection. By 0500, water is on for coffee. I usually let Matt sleep thru the 0600 wake-up call if nothing's going on. Yesterday, I had to wake him as a ship was on AIS and closing with us. His CPA (closest point of approach) was 4 miles, but I had to get on the 0630 net and don't take anything for granted; we needed a visual watch on that ship. Matt's got two fishing lines in the water early on, but so far, no luck. We all do a lot of reading, swapping books with other cruisers or at book exchanges where we find them. "Cotter checks" are done twice daily, sunrise and sunset. This is where we look at wire terminal ends, sail stitching, cotter pins and rings, and generally check the rigging, lines and anything else. Any required small repairs or changes are addressed during the daylight, when possible, as are sail changes. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way! Have I mentioned food? We eat well aboard Infini, and our reefer and freezer (5 cu ft each) hold a lot, as do our pantry and dry storage lockers. The day goes by quickly; we still enjoy the sunrises and sunsets. Of note, as we're heading northwest, sunrise is getting later in the morning; today it was at 0720 hours. The color of the Atlantic here is a kind of cobalt blue, just beautiful. There are still birds fishing, way out here so far from land. So, hope this brief description gives some idea of life aboard; we hope you're enjoying your time as much as we're enjoying ours!

Mar 12 - Departure for Fernando de Noronha

It was an interesting morning. The iPad locked up and we were unable to get into any of our programs, including one of the navigation programs we use. Hmmm. I managed to sort that out by getting on the internet one last time, doing a Navionics chart program update, and crossing my fingers. Success. Aboard, I wanted to run the watermaker before departure and it was good that we did. One of the plastic fitting to the low pressure gauge snapped right off, and water was pumping into the bilge. Hmmm. Got that sorted out and all's well; can't carry enough spare parts. Finally, at 1245 we slipped the anchor and were off. Winds were SSE-SE 15 knots and the sun was shining; it's about 1100 miles to Fernando de Noronha, a National Park off the northeast coast of Brazil. Matt hooked a black jack fish 5 minutes after we left, but released it; we hope that's a harbinger of good fishing to come.

Mar 11 - Touring Ascension Island

We joined our friends Etienne and Denise of sv La Luna for a road tour of the island. Car rentals are arranged thru the Obsidian Hotel as well as the petrol station. First, we drove up the nearby hill to see the view. The switchbacks were numerous and the road steep and narrow, but it only took a few minutes to reach the top. Leaving there, we went to the BBC Atlantic Relay Station. There, we had an informal tour with one of the engineers and learned the history of the Transmitting and Power Stations. The site serves as the main electricity and desalinated water supplier for the island's 800-900 residents. It also receives radio programming from London via satellite link, and feeds it forward to Africa and South America stations. After, we had a cheeseburger at the Two Boats Village before going to Green Mountain to hike to the bamboo forest and Dew Pond. This was a good trek up and around the mountain, and again, the views at a height of about 2800' were awesome. It was quite muddy in several sections, but we were able to rinse off when we returned to the residence house of the farm. It was late afternoon by the time we searched for the lava caves. After one false start just above Wideawake Airfield, we drove a bit further before finally seeing a small sign for Commodore's Cave. Ascension is a very small island, and aside from a few volcanic cauldrons and other hiking areas, other interesting things to do concern the local wildlife; birds, fish and turtles. It was an enjoyable day, and we returned aboard to prepare for departure in the morning.

Mar 10 - The dreaded St. Helena / Ascension roll

Our first night here in Clarence Bay was comfortable with very little roll, as the wind was constant. Take the wind away...our second night was not fun with the sideways roll. Some yachties on the VHF have stated they think the roll here in Clarence Bay, Ascension is less than that at St Helena, but I disagree. Of course, hull shape has a lot to do with roll, but even the cats are rolling here. Given time, I guess you get used to it, but time is something we didn't get upon arrival. It appears our faxed permit paperwork, along with that from several other yachts, never appeared, although we have proof of successful fax transmission to the office here. Maybe they need to get a new fax machine? At any rate, we were granted 3 days, and graciously assured that an extension would be no problem should we desire it. Island time; no worries. Aboard, I was kept busy repairing a leak on the high pressure side of the water maker system; even bronze fittings eventually wear out with constant immersion in salt water. As I was handling that chore, Matt went trolling in the dinghy and hooked up a nice mahi-mahi. A sign ashore said that if you can't catch fish around Ascension, you can't fish. Wish they had a T shirt with that on it. Turtles swim nearby the boat daily, and there are hundreds of black fish we call pirhana fish, although they're actually a type of trigger fish that eat coral, or whatever you throw overboard, including your toes; I have the nip to prove it. A few more particulars of the island. Ascension is not as developed for tourism as is St Helena. Rightly so, as this serves basically as a military installation, not a tourist destination. There are a few small stores with very basic provisions, but not the fresh fruit and veggies found at SH. Restaurant meals at a few places in town must be ordered in advance for service; hours are varied. There is one small bank (no US personal or travelers checks accepted), and wifi internet may be obtained at the hotel, 5 pounds for one hour, or 10 pounds for 24 hours; only good at the hotel, not aboard. The dinghy landing is, we think, a bit easier than SH, as long as there's no significant swell. A stern anchor must be used on a long line, and a long bow line is tied to a SS railing; you'll figure it out. Officials are found at the shipping office just up the road on the right side from the landing, as well as in the Police station. Georgetown is a small town; anything out of town requires a car rental (15 pounds a day).
Pic: Sunrise arrival to this volcanic island.

Mar 9 - Ascension Island

Pos: S07deg55.24min / W014deg24.732min. We had a good, but somewhat slow, passage here, but all went well and we arrived early morning yesterday. Ascension Island is a very small island, about 800-900 people here, mostly American and British military. The airport runway here used to be amongst the longest in the world, as it was used as a potential emergency landing strip for the US space shuttle. We've seen, and swam with, the green sea turtles that are coming here to lay their eggs on the nearby beaches. Fishing has been good, and we caught a nice yellow fin tuna just offshore the island; we threw back some other, smaller species we couldn't identify. Last night, we hosted happy hour aboard Infini, with the crews of Mantra, La Luna, and Quickening joining us. Matt prepared a delicious Hawaiian tuna poke dish (thanks Ray and Mona!), and we enjoyed a congenial gathering. This morning, we cleared in with Customs & Immigration, as well as Port Control; officialdom is easy and smooth in these parts. Our plan is to explore here a few days, probably leaving later this week for Fernando de Noronha. AWA.

Mar 5 - Slow going

Pos: S12deg00min / W009deg50min. These first two days have had very light winds pretty much directly behind us. Things have finally picked up a little bit, with the SE wind filling to 10-15 knots. We'll pass our half-way point to Ascension Island later today. There are other boats which have departed St Helena, and we have an informal net at 1900 UTC on 8134 USB; always nice to know who's going where and what's happening. AWA (all's well aboard).

Mar 3 - Enroute to Ascension Island

Pos: S14deg35.0min / W007deg12.7min. After a one week visit, yesterday morning we departed St Helena Island bound for Ascension Island. This is a 700 mile passage in the SE trade winds. AWA (all's well aboard).

Feb 27 - Happenings

We've spent these last few days walking around town and going into many of the shops. Surprisingly, there isn't a lot of tourist stuff to buy for souvenirs, but we think that that infrastructure will be developed. We walked up and down Jacobs Ladder today, 699 steps, each about 11" height. This was built as a funicular, no longer in use, that was used to haul supplies up the mountain on a continuous loop type of basis. Mules did the work; men did the unloading. The view from the top of the mountain overlooks James Bay and is beautiful. Our knees and calves are feeling it, though. We've been using the wifi at the Consulate Hotel, which also serves a bit of food, has good coffee, and a good selection of books for sale at one pound each. Tourist forms have been faxed to Ascension Island (fax facilities are at the "Sure" office, which is the Cable & Wireless spot, just a few doors down from the Hotel), and we've been cleared out by Customs and Immigration. Last night we had happy hour aboard Mantra, with the crews of Coruisk and Shango there as well; a mini OCC gathering as all of us are members.

Feb 24 - Island tour

The crew of four cruising boats (crew represented America, Scotland, Holland and France - a nice mix!) hired one of the local legendary tour operators, Robert Peters, to take the ten of us around St Helena. Robert's been doing tours for a long time, and is full of anecdotes of the island's history. As there are no cell phones on the island (!!), he can be reached thru the Tourist Information Office at the head of Main Street; can't miss it. A few of the places we visited: Longwood House, where Napoleon spent his exile years before his death, Napoleon's Tomb (before his mortal remains were sent back to France), St. Matthews Church, St Paul's Cathedral, Plantation House (the Governor's residence), Jacob's Ladder, and the road to the new airport. By the way, islanders are justly proud of the new airport under construction, scheduled for completion in the next year or so (?); however, bringing jet planes to a small island will obviously change it forever. We're happy we are here now and enjoying the present island way of life before the inevitable encroachments of modern society come to fruition. No cell phones on the island?! No high-rise buildings or chain hotels?! Few bars or eateries. Just your basic very small island whose history goes back hundreds of years. We were told that about 300 yachts per year visit St Helena. Preliminary estimates have about 30000 tourists visiting by plane in the first year or so...change is a'comin. At any rate, when approaching the island by boat, it appears to be a huge rocky island; the interior, though, is splendid. Green, lush, varied, forest, farms, , beaches, narrow roads...we really enjoyed seeing it, and recommend Robert to yachties following us. Cost for the day's tour - 10 pounds/pp for groups of 8-10 people. Note: there's one bank in town to exchange currencies; there is no ATM, but a Visa card may be used for cash withdrawal there. Life in the slow lane. We've also learned that supplies and passengers arrive by HMS St. Helena once a month; the ship then goes to Ascension island, then returns to St Helena (without supplies) before going back to Cape Town. Obviously, air travel will change all this.

Feb 22 - Safe arrival St. Helena

Pos: S15deg55.495min / W005deg43.516min. This last night was a rocky-rolly one as we put in a third reef in the main to keep our speed slow to plan arrival to St Helena in the daylight. Some other boats we know had arrived at night, but I wanted to see the island in the early morning and imagine what Napoleon and his entourage might have felt upon first seeing their place of incarceration. It worked out well; at sunrise (0611 UTC), we could just see the outline of the island, and were still 15 miles from our outside waypoint. When we were 10 miles out, I called St Helena Radio on VHF 16, and they instructed me to call back when we were 2 miles from the yacht anchorage. There are yellow and red mooring balls in James Bay now; the red ones are for vessels over 20 tons. They are a new issue, the powers to be apparently having decided that support of visiting yachts is a good thing, and that the difficult chore of anchoring in 60 feet of water with a rocky bottom wasn't conducive to tourism and people wanting to come visit and stay a bit here. The really good news is that we finally caught some fish, just outside the island; a nice dolphin fish, and a 4 foot wahoo. The last time we caught fish was in Chagos, and that was by dinghy! At any rate, the wahoo was on the deck and Port Control called and told us to get ready to go in to Immigration and Customs by water taxi. So much for relaxing a bit. Everyone was very accommodating, and the paperwork went smoothly; fees were put off until tomorrow, Monday, when the bank will be open to obtain British pounds, and we were requested to return to their office for payment. The water taxi is a good idea around here. The swell near the landing area is terrible even on a calm day, and landing by dinghy is just dangerous. As it is, you jump from the small water taxi onto a concrete pier, grabbing a knotted rope hanging down from a cross beam; not for the non-athletic or faint of heart. I've concluded it's been a somewhat demolition derby for yachties getting here. We know of two boats whose engines have packed it in; one boat is getting shipped back to South Africa, the other boat is going forward to the Caribbean without an engine. Another yacht had engine troubles, but sorted it all out and blamed dirty fuel as the culprit. Two boats we know of blew their spinnakers and another lost its spinnaker halyard. One yacht had its watermaker motor burn out, another its refrigerator compressor pack it in. One had a rigging failure; we're unsure of the details. And these are just a few of the yachts we know or have heard about....At any rate, we're happy to report that our damage report aboard Infini was quite minor; one block developed a crack in its stainless bale from crevice corrosion; it's already been replaced this afternoon. So...this has been a nice 1215 mile, 10 day passage; a bit slower than we would have liked, but we had no major gear problems and there were lots of sail changes, wind shifts, and reaching pole usage. We're really excited to be able to, once again, explore a tiny island (8.5 X 5 miles) with so much history.

Feb 18 - Enroute

Pos: S18deg37.2min / E000deg52.3min Course: 290T; Speed: 5.0 knots. Sails: Full main, Yankee jib and staysail; port tack. Wind: SW-SSW 8 knots. Reminder to self: don't expect what the gribs say. SE winds have been predicted for days; we had strong SW winds of 15-20 last night; wind strength has moderated quite a bit, but direction is still SW-SSW, which is working out well for us. We'll pass our 000 degree meridian of longitude in a bit, passing into the western hemisphere again; it's been a very long time - 3 years, 4 months ago during passage from Tonga to New Zealand! We still have a daily morning check-in with the Mobile Maritime (HAM) Net at 0635 UTC with Sam, ZS1SAM, at 14316 USB. So far, no luck fishing, although it's not for lack of trying. All's well aboard.

Feb 16 - Enroute

Pos: S19deg52.6min / E004deg34.4min. Winds have been from the S-SSE-SE. We've been making good time, in the 140-155 nm/day range, but winds are forecast to ease a bit, so we'll see how it goes. We'll be celebrating reaching our half-way point later today. All's well aboard.

Feb 14 - Enroute to St. Helena

Pos: S21deg10.9min / E009deg19.5min at 1345 hours. Course: 290T; speed: 6.5 knots; sails: double reefed main; 85% Yankee poled to starboard; seas: 6'. Day 1 mileage: 143 nm; Day 2: 152 nm. We're making good progress in the S-SE tradewinds. We could go a bit faster, but are sailing conservatively and usually have a reef or two in when the winds creep up over 20 knots. It's feeling a bit warmer now, away from the South African and Namibian coast. We're also seeing flying fish (and one wayward squid!) on deck again; it's been a long time. All's well aboard. And...Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Feb 11 - Departure plans

We're planning departure tomorrow for St. Helena, approximately 2253 km. (1400 miles). Final provisioning has been done, and we've cleared out with Immigration and Customs. Sue's posted a few new photo albums - enjoy!(1400 miles)

Feb 5 - Road trip

We rented a VW Polo from Hertz. It handles well and gets great gas mileage, but we were forced to turn around and abandon our plan to visit Twfelfontein because the suspension and tires on the gravel roads leading out of Swakopmond weren't up to the task. Little did we know…. a large 4 X 4 with good springs would have been a much better choice. As it was, we stayed the night at the Namib Guesthouse in Swakopmund (highly recommended; a beautiful place, reasonable prices, great food, friendly people and very convenient location; phone +264 64 407151; and left early the next morning to see the sand dunes of Sossusvlei and Sesriem. The drive to get there was amazing. First, you drive through Dorob National Park, then the Namib Naukluft Park. Gaub Pass and the surrounding terrain is worth seeing; our cameras were in constant use. We also spotted wild horses, zebras, ostrich, oryx and springbok. Along the way is a small rest stop called Solitaire; don't miss the apple cake at the café; really good stuff; fuel, an ATM, a restaurant and campground are also nearby. Continuing our drive, we ended up booking a self-catering "tent" at the Desert Camp (; phone +27 21 930 4564). This is a nice stop, and less expensive than the resort lodges nearby (we calculated about ½ the price!). The entrance to Sossusvlei opens at 0620, and we were dutifully parked in the short line. It takes about an hour to drive a paved blacktop road to where the road ends. There, one pays N$100 (about $9USD, return included) for a 4 X 4 vehicle to transport you the remaining few kilometers to the end of the line (near Deadvlei); this is where the red sand dunes stretch out in front of you and you're transported into a true African experience. You can walk as long as you'd like, but we found that after a few hours of climbing and walking along the spines of a few dunes that we were ready to stop; it was about 1030 AM and the sun was starting to warm everything up. The shapes and colors of the dunes are difficult to describe; you really have to see them; magnificent. The sky was a clear blue without a cloud in the sky (today), and there was no sound except our own thoughts and our heartbeats. This is a unique and fabulous excursion, highly recommended. After, we ate lunch at the park restaurant and drove back to Walvis Bay.
Pic: One of the many wind sculpted dunes on our way to Sossuvlei.

Feb 1 - Daily happenings

Walvis Bay is the largest port in Namibia. We counted over 50 ship AIS targets, and there were plenty more craft around. The yacht anchorage is in front of the Oceans Restaurant, and is obvious by the many masts on moorings there. Depth is about 3 meters, and moorings are available for rent from the Yacht Club, a blue and white building furthest to the right out on the point when facing the shore. We met Pascal and Martine from the catamaran Steel Band, just as they were returning from a last provisioning before heading out to St Helena. Pascal related that any boat service or repair required is available here; nice to know. We walked into town, about 2-3 km each way, to the Spar supermarket. There’s also an OK Grocery and a bunch of chain food outlets. Because it was Sunday, all the shops were closed except for the groceries, open until 1 pm. We’ve been using the hot showers at the YC; their internet is sketchy. Much faster internet is the wifi at the Oceans Restaurant; blazing would be an apt description. What a nice change from the frustrating, slow internet thruout our stay in SA. Matt was able to go kite surfing as well; the flat waters conducive to fast speeds and acrobatics. The many pelicans and flamingoes make a nice backdrop to the lagoon, and there’s a nice walk along the waterfront esplanade for viewing. Should also mention that we’re moored right near a bunch of catamarans which take tourists out for harbor and seal tours every morning.
Pic: Matt kiting among the local pelican flocks.